As nonprofits get more efficient and leaner (but not meaner) in managing a 21st century workforce, they're discovering that all kinds of Web 2.0 collaboration tools can help team members in multiple locations communicate smarter and faster with each other. The tools also can help you work closer with partner organizations and volunteers. Here are five tools that we've encouraged our nonprofit clients to try out.
Not all of them may be right for your needs, and not all are free. We suggest testing them out with small teams to see how they can help you become a more social and collaborative organization.
Free workspaces. Habitat for Humanity, UNICEF and World Vision are a few of the nonprofits using Huddle, an online collaboration workspace that’s free for nonprofits with budgets under $7 million. Its customizable dashboard makes it easy to add widgets, and online whiteboards foster effortless integration with Facebook and LinkedIn.
Collaborative scheduling. To be honest, we think Microsoft Office is so 1996. Need to figure out when everyone on the team -- and your outside partner's team -- is available for a call or meeting? Doodle isn’t bad, but Tungle.me is the best of breed, offering the most intuitive way to schedule meetings and to see what openings work best for everyone.
Assign roles. MediaFunnel offers an online dashboard that lets you coordinate and manage your social media presence. It supports multiple users on one or more Twitter accounts or Facebook Pages. You can set up user roles: guest, contributor, publisher and administrator, making it ideal for campaigns or specialized programs. Free trial.
Transfer large files. Need to transfer video files or batches of photos? Email maxes out at about 15 megabytes, which is enough for only 10 photos or so. We do like YouSendIt, which lets you send up to 2 gigabytes of files to anyone with an email address. But our favorite is Dropbox, which comes with 2GB of space that you can use for as long as you like. Enjoy life in the cloud! Works with desktop computers and mobile devices (Windows, Mac, Linux, iPad, iPhone, Android and BlackBerry).
Project management via mobile. DeskAway is a Web-based project collaboration software that provides teams a central location to easily organize, manage, share and track their projects. With its mobile component, you’ll know that your work is going on smoothly when you are in the field or away from your desk. 30-day free trial with a 30% discount to non-profit organizations on all pricing plans.
*JD Lasica is editor and founder of Socialbrite.org, a consultancy that helps nonprofits use social media strategically. Socialbrite's Sharing Center offers hundreds of free resources and tutorials for the nonprofit community.